KRAKOW, Poland — Each week because the starting of March, Evgeny has packed his automobile with field after field of medication and pushed from his residence close to Krakow to a different Polish metropolis, Rzeszow, close to the border with Ukraine.
Evgeny stated he was initially from Russia, however for the final 16 years, Poland has been his residence. He lives there together with his spouse and is a Polish citizen. When the Russian invasion of Ukraine started in late February, he stated he knew he needed to do one thing.
He stated he is aware of of different Russians in Poland who even have spent the final seven weeks, like many of their adopted nation, becoming a member of grass roots efforts to offer housing, logistical assist and different varieties of support to these fleeing the warfare in neighboring Ukraine.
“For me, it is easy. It’s not an inner battle for me,” he stated of reconciling his Russian id — and issues for household nonetheless dwelling in Russia — together with his need to assist Ukrainians. “I don’t deal with it like two opposing sides, as if my household is an enemy of the opposite facet. This isn’t true,” he added, asking that his final title not be used out of issues for his household’s security.
Greater than 2.5 million folks have crossed the border from Ukraine into Poland — most of them ladies and youngsters — because the Russian invasion started, and their wants are immense.
When information of the Russian invasion broke, Evgeny stated he was shocked.
“You may have combined emotions — of feeling offended, embarrassed, and no thought what to do subsequent,” he stated. “For 5 or 6 days I used to be utterly empty inside.”
However Evgeny stated he has an in depth good friend in Ukraine, Oleksandr, who he stated had saved his life when he was in a nasty automobile accident in Ukraine eight years in the past and has change into like a brother.
“We bought to know one another through the worst day of my life. He’s a implausible particular person, a pure patriot of Ukraine and a superb particular person,” Evgeny stated. When he heard the information of the Russian invasion, he stated one in every of his first calls was to Oleksandr to verify he was alive and to see what he wanted, and what Evgeny might do to assist.
Oleksandr is in an space of Ukraine that has remained comparatively steady to date, and he’s serving to with the warfare effort. Evgeny stated he has been in shut contact together with his good friend to see what the wants are on the bottom and is working with a community of his contacts to coordinate support.
Now, his residence workplace has change into a logistics hub, he stated, and he has devoted all of his spare time outdoors of labor to serving to Ukrainians. He makes the 3-hour round-trip to Rzeszow at the least as soon as every week.
Evgeny, whose spouse is a pharmacist, stated a lot of his consideration has been targeted on getting medicines to Ukrainian refugees in Poland and sending them throughout the border into the nation.
“At the least I really feel like I can do one thing,” he stated.
Different Russian nationals have additionally joined these efforts. Igor Gerbeev, 34, who had been dwelling in Moscow however moved to Poland in 2020, is amongst them.
“This nation turned like a dictatorship with no potential to say your individual opinion,” he stated of Russia. As somebody who spoke out towards the Kremlin on-line, he stated the ambiance had grown more and more troublesome.
“Russia is sort of a lovely facade,” he stated, however behind it’s a lack of alternative for younger folks like him and he not noticed a future for himself there.
Since he got here to Poland and located a brand new job with an IT firm, he stated he had grown near a group of Ukrainian mates who had welcomed him with open arms when he knew nobody in Krakow.
So when the Russian invasion started, he felt he needed to take a stand.
“That is my obligation. I’ve ideas and I’ve imaginative and prescient,” Mr. Gerbeev stated.
He stated he had welcomed a household of 5 Ukrainians into his residence for weeks earlier than they moved on to stick with their members of the family in Germany. When the household arrived, Mr. Gerbeev stated, the mom was nervous when she realized he was Russian. However she quickly warmed up and was extremely grateful.
Mr. Gerbeev, who described himself as only one small a part of a wider support effort, stated he has been impressed by the tireless work of Ukrainians serving to their fellow countrymen, whilst they undergo the ravages of warfare.
He stated he believes that long run, the warfare will destroy the lives of Russians in addition to Ukrainians, due to punishing sanctions and worldwide isolation of Moscow. Nonetheless, he stated nearly all of the folks he is aware of again residence nonetheless assist President Vladimir V. Putin.
“It’s laborious to talk with them. To many individuals in Russia, I’m a traitor,” he stated, including that that may not cease him from doing all he can to assist Ukrainians in want. “It’s my obligation as a human.”